By Bida Elly David
Continuous highway attack against construction companies is one of the stumbling blocks to improving South Sudan’s infrastructure for economic growth.
The national minister of Roads and Bridges, Simon Mijok Mijak, remark on Tuesday, while responding to numerous questions from members of parliament on the country’s infrastructural development projects.
He hinted that South Sudan has high chances of fostering economic growth, but the level of attacks against road workers is a setback to the ongoing construction of highways.
“The construction of roads in South Sudan has a lot of challenges, mostly security challenges,” he said.
“In November, there were attacks on contractors along Jonglei roads, and even machines were burned; thus, the issue of insecurity is one of them,” he noted.
The minister said construction of the Juba-Bor highway has been halted on account of continuous attacks against contractors, forcing them to withdraw out of fear for their lives.
But lawmakers alleged that the withdrawal of contracted companies was due to unpaid dues, a claim Hon. Mijok refuted, noting that his ministry has never kept any contractor unpaid.
He condemned the continuous attacks against the contractors, whom he noted as humans equally bear the senses of fear, amid threats to their lives.
The Minister, however, said that despite the predicaments, the Jonglei authorities managed to rescue the ministry through security reinforcement to ensure progress in the road construction.
He pointed out that unless the security sector improves, the level of infrastructure across the country will be at stake.
“Contractors are also human beings who fear their lives. I thank the security sector and the citizens of greater Akobo and Jonglei for giving us security for our sub-contractors,” Mijok noted.
He said the accusations against the ministry over failures have no meaning since the insecurity in South Sudan is out of control as far as infrastructure is concerned.
The minister added that the country faces another challenge over the lack of drainage channels and bridges for controlling the flow of water.
He echoed that poor town planning on the pavement of highways continues to cause serious traffic as a result of narrow roads, mentioning the Hai Referendum Road project that was due to poor planning.
On the contamination of city roads with garbage, Mijok faulted citizens and the city council for poor control, saying that his ministry will hold talks with the municipal head to curb the dumping saga.
“We have another concern with public awareness and responsibility,” he said.
“We are all aware of our roads with heaps of garbage. This is the responsibility of the state government, the county, and the city council. I am still meeting them to take charge of the collection,” he stressed.
Minister Mijok suggested the creation of bus stations with good parking to avoid traffic congestion on highways, saying that’s one of the elements he is going to discuss with the other levels of government.